This is about as disturbing as “pranks” go.
FBI arrested a Florida man, who allegedly plotted to set off an explosion on September 13th at a memorial ceremony in Kansas City, in commemoration of first responders during the 9/11 attacks.
Online, the man claimed to be an Australian-based Islamic State jihadist, who went by the name of “Australi Witness” and was calling for a series of attacks against Western countries.
But the man who's been in police custody since Thursday morning has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg, a Jewish American.
On his “Australi Witness” Twitter account, Goldberg shared photos of a bomb he allegedly created with 2 pounds of explosives inside:
Goldberg had been communicating online with someone whom he thought was sympathetic to his cause, but in reality was an FBI informant. All of his conversations were being monitored.
In one conversation, Goldberg tried to convince his online friend to build a bomb - one very similar to the one used in the Boston bombings - and was giving step-by-step instructions on how to do it.
He allegedly wrote:
“Put as much sharp stuff as you can in there.”
“Use shards of metal and nails.”
He even told the agent to dip the metal shards in rat poison.
After FBI agents saw these messages, they had enough evidence to arrest Goldberg.
But once captured, they quickly realized he'd never built a bomb, nor did he have any affiliation to the Islamic group whatsoever. Stranger still, he claims to have no desire to be.
Online messages show that Goldberg was actually an advocate for free speech, who criticized anyone who put limits on—or tried to legislate against—“hate speech.”
Still, if convicted Goldberg could face up to 20 years in prison.